The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, District Judge.
Plaintiff, who is deaf, was arrested for possession of
Although the Sheriff's Department knew that he was deaf and
although the department had hearing impaired equipment available,
the department failed to provide Plaintiff with any means with
which to communicate with friends and/or relative in order to
Has Plaintiff stated a cause of action upon which relief can be
granted under these circumstances?
I. FACTS ALLEGED IN THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT
Plaintiff, Steve Hanson, is profoundly deaf. He has a limited
ability to read lips and a limited ability to understand written
communications. He primarily relies upon the use of sign language
On June 4, 1995, at approximately 2:00 a.m., officers from the
Springfield Police Department arrested Hanson for possession of
cannabis. At that time, Hanson informed the officers that he is
deaf. However, the officers did not attempt to communicate with
him; rather, the officers placed him into a police van with
approximately eight to ten other arrestees and transported him
and the others to the Sangamon County Jail.
While being processed at the jail for arrest, officers of the
Sangamon County Sheriff's Department verbally told Hanson that he
was being charged with the possession of cannabis. However, the
officers did not advise Hanson of the amount of bail which he
would need to be released pending his trial. Although the
officers informed Hanson that he could make one telephone call,
Hanson informed the officers that due to his deafness, he was
unable to use a conventional telephone. In spite of his inability
to use a conventional telephone and his requests for alternative
assistance, the Sangamon County Sheriff's Department failed to
provide Hanson with access to an interpreter, to a text telephone
device ("TDD"), or to a TDD directory. Throughout the night,
Hanson attempted to notify the officers of his need for
alternative assistance in contacting friends and/or relatives,
but it was to no avail.
By 6:00 a.m. that same morning, all other arrestees who were
transported to and processed for arrest at the jail along with
Hanson had been released. At some point after 6:00 a.m., Officer
Martha Brown assisted Hanson in making a telephone call to his
roommate and to his neighbor for the purpose of bringing money to
bail him out of jail. Hanson was not allowed to use an accessible
telephone in private or in a confidential manner, however. After
relying on Officer Brown for his telephone communications, the
Sangamon County Sheriff's Department released Hanson
approximately thirteen hours after his arrest and nine hours
after all other persons transported and processed along with him
had been released.
On July 7, 1997, the Circuit Court of Sangamon County found
Hanson guilty on the charge of possession of cannabis.
Accordingly, Hanson has initiated the above-captioned case
claiming that Defendants have violated his rights.
II. LEGAL STANDARD FOR MOTIONS TO DISMISS
In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the Court "must accept well
pleaded allegations of the complaint as true. In addition, the
Court must view these allegations in the light most favorable to
the plaintiff." Gomez v. Illinois State Bd. of Educ.,
811 F.2d 1030, 1039 (7th Cir. 1987). Although a complaint is not required
to contain a detailed outline of the claim's basis, it
nevertheless "must contain either direct or inferential
allegations respecting all the material elements necessary to
sustain a recovery under some viable legal theory." Car
Carriers, Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 745 F.2d 1101, 1106 (7th Cir.
1984). Mere conclusions, without supporting factual allegations,
are insufficient to support a claim for relief. Cohen v.
Illinois Institute of Technology, 581 F.2d 658, 663 (7th Cir.
1978). Dismissal should not be ...